Ryan Nehlen "Tests Out the Roof" at WVU Pro Day - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Ryan Nehlen "Tests Out the Roof" at WVU Pro Day

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MORGANTOWN -

Ryan Nehlen was made for a pro day.

As one of West Virginia football's most gifted athletes, the opportunity to put his body to the test and measure that athleticism in terms of concrete numbers is something that the wide receiver can take advantage of.

So when the Mountaineers held their pro day a week ago, the Morgantown native knew his football future was on the line and if he performed the way he was capable of doing, the National Football League scouts, general managers and coaches on hand would have no choice but to take notice.

"My body is drained right now just because I'm not used to this stuff," Nehlen said after his workout. "Running the 40[-yard dash], I'm not used to that stuff, getting down in a three-point stance and taking off. That stuff stresses you out a little bit."

You wouldn't know it based on his results.

Nehlen clocked the fastest times and the highest numbers in many of the statistical categories tested throughout the day. His 40-yard dash of 4.53 seconds was top on the team, as were both of his shuttle runs and he turned in the second-best time on the three-cone drill.

He also apparently hid his pogo stick, but used it well when showing off his leaping ability. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound athlete had a vertical jump of 39 inches, which was not only the best at West Virginia, but it also would have been just half of an inch behind the best jump among wide receivers at this year's NFL Combine.

His broad jump was again at the top of the charts, covering 11-feet and one inch.

He, along with running back Shawne Alston and cornerback Pat Miller, spent weeks under the tutelage of West Virginia's strength staff, trying to prepare their bodies for the exact rigors that would accompany pro day.

"I worked out here at the stadium with Mike Joseph, Darl [Bauer], Kevin [McCadam] and they did a great job of getting us ready and working on our technique and I give all the praise to them. They did a great job with us," said Nehlen.

So when it all played out and the reps and the runs really counted, that group was all there to cheer on Ryan and to cheer on each other to a strong showing and a potential look from those in the NFL who ultimately decide what a player can and cannot provide their team.

"He's a kid who does everything right, he tests out the roof," WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said of Nehlen. "You never know when people are just going to take it and run with it."

Many of those on hand may now be forced to go back and look at Nehlen's film from his career, but the problem they may encounter is that not much of exists. He just so happened to play behind the likes of Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, not to mention other receivers who took playing time away.

You won't hear him complain about that fact, though. Actually, he sees their success as being beneficial to him now.

"I was totally blessed to have the years Geno [Smith] and Stedman and Tavon had this year and the publicity surrounding this event was special for guys like me who didn't have as much film on the field. So it was a good experience," said Nehlen.

After proving his athleticism, Nehlen had a chance to join those more sought after friends of his in passing drills. Smith threw 64 passes that day and the majority of them were to Bailey and Austin, but none of them that targeted Nehlen ever touched the ground.

He showed his ability to run crisp routes, to make quick cuts and to leap in the corner of the end zone and pull down a ball from its highest point.

"This stuff, catching balls and running routes, that's what I've done my whole life, so I enjoy that part," said Nehlen. "It was fun because it just felt like a Friday walk-through out there running routes with [Smith] and we've always had a pretty good connection."

That is precisely what Nehlen thinks he can provide a team at the next level. He may not have the flash and the big numbers to back him up, but he has a solid skill set and a great pair of hands to help become a reliable receiver for some passer in the NFL.

"I'm never going to blow by anybody," said Nehlen. "There are people for that in the NFL, but I think there's always a spot for a guy that can just go out there and just consistently catch the football. I think if you can consistently catch the football, you always will have a chance."

The man who put him through his daily grind much of the past season believes that if Nehlen finds himself in an NFL camp, he will do what it takes to stick around.
"In my opinion, he needs to be on a roster at some point in the beginning of the year and be given an opportunity just based on my knowledge of being around him for the last two years," Dawson said.

Nehlen knows that he has an uphill climb to land a job in the pro ranks, but he also knows that with his WVU career behind him, he has a clean slate.

"After college, it's a new start," Nehlen said. "You want to set new impressions on people and hopefully they give you a chance."

If pro day was his first impression on the NFL, it was quite a good one.

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